Drill rigs are often described as ‘the needle of truth’ in the exploration game; and for tungsten-focused EQ Resources (ASX: EQR), that saying has proven prophetic.
Earlier this year, EQ Resources reported high‑grade intersections of three to five metres wide from drilling that demonstrated the existence of a high-grade mineralised system emerging 150 metres west of the company’s 100 per cent owned Mt Carbine tungsten mine, near Cairns.
These final results from EQ’s 2022 campaign combined with earlier hits to produce a 64 per cent increase in the indicated resources (in situ) category by adding 2,109,101 metric tonne units.
The Mt Carbine global mineral resource estimation inventory increased by 28.6 per cent for a total increase of 2,136,338 metric tonne units.
This larger resource plays into the company’s expansion strategy, with the bulk of it having been converted to the higher-confidence indicated resource category, which, in turn, will form the basis for an anticipated ore reserve update.
EQ has been systematic in its resource estimation by converting a couple of years of resource at a time with the intention of getting into production sooner rather than later, thus paying for the next phase of the operation instead of hitting up shareholders for more cash.
‘While we have been drilling to define and upgrade the resource, [and] have been mining the low-grade stockpiles,’ says EQ Resources Chief Executive Officer Kevin MacNeill.
‘By doing so, we have been able to identify and eradicate any bugs from our tungsten processing systems.’
EQ Resources has upped the pace towards the restart of open pit mining at Mt Carbine. The high-grade mineralisation recently intersected remains open further to the west, north and to depth, and the company has signalled its intentions to continue to drill this year to further expand what is emerging as a world-class tungsten resource.
‘We are now seeing the best-grade material on the floor of the old pit, and we will work to understand the mineralogy of how it is formed and how it is presenting itself before we strip back the entire mine,’ MacNeill explains.
‘The open pit that we have designed is probably only looking at 15 per cent of the known resource that we have estimated.
‘It is going to be a big underground mine sometime in the future, but we are currently mining material out of the waste dumps right now of 0.07 per cent tungsten, and some of the mineralisation we have encountered out to the west is around three per cent tungsten.’
EQ’s stated goal has always been to establish a long-life open pit operation followed by a long-life underground operation.
The immediate priority now is to put the updated resource into the financial model to plan a larger pit and extend open pit mine life.